70th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 30 cartoons bring life to Human Rights

70th birthday of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 30 cartoons bring life to Human Rights

By Camilla Carlesi


On the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948, the UN Human Rights Office, together with the Cartoon Movement, opened a cartoon contest which selected 30 images out of the more than 500 submissions which best portrayed each of the 30 articles written in the declaration.

Illustrated below are some of this year’s winners of the contest who were published on the Cartoon Movement website:



Art 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.







Art 7. All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.







Art. 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.






Art. 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.






Art. 30. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.





(go to: https://www.standup4humanrights.org/layout/files/Posters/30_cartoons_UDHR.pdf to see the full album)


These pictures convey a message in a much more effective way than words. Through art, human rights are rediscovered in an understandable format. These cartoons in particular work to motivate its viewers to reflect on their attitude towards the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and on their general condition. Art has the power to provoke in them the need to change their ethical values. The UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights fosters the use of art as a vehicle to promote human dignity and human rights. Moreover, it encourages the use of all arts such as music, architecture, literature, performing arts and dramas in addition to visual art and cartoons to advocate for these moral beliefs.

The 30 pictures created to give life to the articles of the Declaration of Human Rights demonstrate how the Document was just as important 70 years ago as it is today. However, as the Cartoon Movement states, “around the world, we see that human rights are increasingly under pressures and space for civil society, journalists and cartoonists is shrinking.” Therefore, it is our duty to support the spread of these cartoons as a vehicle of sensitization to keep Human Rights alive in order to achieve equality, freedom and peace.









World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day

By Serena Montefusco

Last June 20th was World Refugee Day, an occasion for which the Argentinian Embassy to the Holy See organized a morning of reflection on the issue of migration at the headquarters of the Communication Department of the Vatican with a focus on the caravans of migrants typical of South America. This invitation for open dialogue deepened the discussion of Venezuelan migrants.

The Guglielmo Marconi room in Piazza Pia in Rome was packed with familiar faces, such as Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter of the Argentinian Embassy to the Holy See, Fr. Fabio Baggio Undersecretary of the migrants and refugees section of the Dicastery For Promoting Integral Human Development, Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Holy See’s Communication Department (Vatican News), Paola Alvarez of the International Organization for Migration, Andrea Pecoraro of UNHCR, Martina Liebsch, director of the Caritas Internationals advocacy office, Sister Eleia Scariot , Scalabrinian missionary and director of the Chaire Gynai project, Gianni la Bella, professor of contemporary history at the University of Modena and member of the presidency council of the community of Sant’Egidio, and finally S.E.R. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See.

Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter welcomed the participants by introducing the most common reasons why thousands of people are forced to migrate: economic adversity, as the result of persecution or conflict and climatic phenomena. Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter’s commentary emphasized how fundamental it is to establish joint work between states in order to stem the universal problem. The continents most involved are Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. According to the 2016 United Nations report, Venezuelans have become the largest displaced group in the world. In 2016 there were 700,000 displaced Venezuelan migrants, and today there are over 4 million.

On the 29th of September we celebrate the 105th Day of the Migrants and Refugees instituted by Pope Benedict XV in 1914. For this occasion, Pope Francis launched an important message on the 27th of May, “It is not just about migrants, it is about our humanity”, and invites us all not to be afraid of the stranger, or of the unknown, by implementing the charity that resides in our humanity, and not to feed what is called the “globalization of indifference” that separates us from one another. As recalled by Dr. Andrea Tornielli, the family of Nazareth is an example and model in support of all migrants, refugees and displaced persons who, pressed by persecution or need, find themselves forced to flee and to be separated from their loved ones, as Joseph and Mary were. Leaving the word to Fr. Fabio Baggio, Tornielli emphasizes that “states have an evangelical responsibility to support migrants”.

P. Fabio Baggio presented the work that the Church is doing worldwide which involves the 20 points of action of the Global Compact, which we have had the privilege to listen to last May 15th at our Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. The challenges increase every day, and it is necessary to develop effective responses through the creation of assistance centers, housing, jobs, health care and vocational training. These are some of the actions carried out by the section on migrants and refugees that operates worldwide and gives support to the Church by accompanying people at every level of migration.

In the second part of the morning, the round table was chaired by Dr. Paola Alvarez and Dr. Andrea Pecoraro. Both presented the numbers concerning international and regional migration in Latin America, and then in Venezuela.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) was born in 1951, but only in 2016 did it enter the United Nations system as a connected agency. Today it has 173 member states, a statistic that encourages us to reflect on the magnitude and space it occupies on a global scale. The latest reports show that there are 258 million international migrants and 760 million internal migrants. There is a tendency on the part of the media to focus on international migration, “relying too much on words and not on facts” and giving space to an increasingly distorted perception of the reality of migrants. Alvarez mentions the global compact, based on the goals of the 2030 agenda, to highlight the second point which aims to “minimize the adverse conditions and structural factors that drive people to leave their country of origin”. Leaving the word to Pecoraro, Alvarez adds that “the global compact gives the opportunity to rethink immigration, invites us to think of migration as a choice”.

Andrea Pecoraro presented the work carried out in recent years by the UNHCR which has analyzed the phenomenon of constant migratory growth. According to the UNHCR annual report, forced migrants increased exponentially due to the Syrian conflict. This phenomenon is also manifested in many African regions, which see an increasing number of displaced people in developing countries. There is also a notable increase of migratory growth in South America: the protagonist of the discussion being Venezuela with its aforementioned 4 million displaced persons.

The third part of the morning was dedicated to the testimonies of some projects promoted globally by Caritas, the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters and the community of Sant’Egidio. The discussion was concluded by S.E.R. Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher. Dr. Martina Liesbch presented the new campaign “Sharing the journey” on migration. The campaign was launched last September 27th during the Pope’s audience with migrants and aims to promote the culture of encounter and to help see the phenomenon of migration with different eyes. Similarly, Sister Eleia Scariot presented the project of the Scalabrinian Missionary Sisters in Rome “Chaire Gynai” (Welcome Woman) which has opened two houses for refugee women and children in vulnerable situations. In both cases, social inclusion activities are carried out based on the 4 verbs of the Pope: accepting, protecting, promoting and integrating. These words echoed for the whole morning inside of the classroom. Prof. Gianni La Bella, of the Sant’Egidio community, reiterated the importance of promoting humanitarian corridors to establish a system of legal and safe migration. The humanitarian corridors carried out by the community serve as a clear and concrete example that it is possible to regulate the flow of migration.

As anticipated, the morning ended with a concluding statement from Archbishop Gallagher, who reiterated that regulating migration and helping migrants is a global responsibility, as it is also the responsibility of migrants themselves to learn about the culture of the state that welcomes them. The UNESCO Chair supports this strong message through the implementation of the CivicAL project, which foresees the development of chapter 3 of the manual for educators, which concerns the rights and responsibilities of migrants. It is a message that UNESCO Chair has been supporting for some time, and which it has been able to develop on several occasions, such as during the year 2017 when it supported the activities of the Eurosol project together with other partners from different European member states.

Illiteracy is gendered: women are much more likely to never step inside of a classroom compared to men

Illiteracy is gendered: women are much more likely to never step inside of a classroom compared to men

By Camilla Carlesi

“Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls” are the fourth and fifth Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. As of today, work has been done in order to reach these goals by 2030. However, when it comes to quality education and women empowerment data are not optimistic. The World’s Women 2015 study says that of the 781 million adults over the age of 15 estimated to be illiterate 496 million are women. This accounts for two-thirds of the whole illiterate population. Unfortunately, this ratio has not been changed much in the past years.

The higher rates of illiteracy are present in underdeveloped countries. About half of the illiterate women come from Sub Saharan Africa. In West Africa, for example, less than 25% of women can read. What are the main reasons? Primarily, being born in an underprivileged situation implies lower chances of getting a school education. In particular, being born in a family which did not receive education in the first place. When parents lack of education themselves, children will be less motivated to go to school. This phenomenon is called “intergenerational transmission of illiteracy” and it represents one of the major causes for illiteracy.

Transmission of illiteracy directly relates to poverty, as often children are held back from going to school because their family needs them to work in order to survive. Especially in countries which still rely on agriculture and farming, child labor is highly required. In addition to this, in places where gender roles are still well distinct, males are in charge of learning hard labor and females are asked to stay home to learn houseworks and eventually get married very young. According to recent UNICEF statistics about child marriage, the percentage of women in West and Central Africa who got married or in union before age 15 is 14% and 41% before age 18. This means that, about half the number of women living in West and Central Africa marry even before reaching legal age.

In the case of women, illiteracy is much more frequent also because of gender discrimination, which tends to stop females from both accessing and continuing education. A survey conducted by the GCE (Global Campaign for Education) states that girls in school feel that they are less safe and face more harassment than men. Therefore, even if some women manage to access education, it is harder for them to complete their studies due to the unpleasant situations they often have to face. Particularly, menstruation plays a major role in the spread of women discrimination. Females are subject to discrimination during their period but they also lack access to sanitary products or education regarding hygiene practices. Therefore, they need to stay home during their whole menstruation cycle and miss school. Because of this, according to UNESCO, girls are less likely to graduate from secondary school compared to boys. Solutions to this problems are easy to find, but difficult to implement. For example, teaching sanitary or sexual education to both men and women could tackle the issue of women discrimination, but it would be very difficult to insert in a very conservative environment. In general, all countries outside Africa (with the exception of Afghanistan) have literacy rates above 50%, which account for the higher global literacy ever. Therefore, luckily, the situation outside of Africa is not as negative.

As the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights, we want to share the data relating to women’s illiteracy in order to highlight the significance of the issue, promote gender equality and foster an easier access to education. We have been working to achieve these goals and we have developed projects dealing with this theme, such as CivicAL. CivicAL aims to spread the knowledge of Civic Education among people living in disadvantage situations . The project focuses on education, as it is an important vehicle for people to integrate into the society they are living in. The fact that women are less likely to even step inside of a classroom compared to men is an issue that needs to be solved immediately, since it puts in danger women’s integration into society. More projects like CivicAL should be implemented towards the goal of reducing global illiteracy to reach gender equality.







An Introspective into Dedicatory Days for Migrants and Refugees

An Introspective into Dedicatory Days for Migrants and Refugees

By Madison Silverman

Under the leadership of Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, Italy’s stance on migration policy has become increasingly hard-lined and uncompromising. The ramifications of this approach affect all of the Euro Area, and perhaps it is for this reason that the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe has announced that the Italian capital of Rome will be the focus of this year’s World Refugee Day, on June 20th. The aim of World Refugee Day is to “commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees”.

While World Refugee Day is an event organized by the United Nations and its respective agencies, the Vatican has jointly organized a day to celebrate migrants and refugees. On May 27th, Pope Francis released a message for the 105th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, an event scheduled for September 29th, stating: “Dear brothers and sisters, our response to the challenges posed by contemporary migration can be summed up in four verbs: welcome, protect, promote and integrate”. According to a 2016 poll published by L’Unita, approximately 50% of Italians consider themselves to be Catholic, and so a strange dichotomy is presenting itself in the response to the acceptance of refugees. Italy is becoming increasingly bipolarized and divided on the issue- with some rejecting the arrival of migrants into Italy, and some welcoming them. The response from pro-migration advocates, such as the United Nations and the Vatican, has been to organize different days with a wide variety of activities to further the advancement of the acceptance of migrants and refugees.

As Rome is the 2019 focus of World Refugee Day, The United Nations has organized a wide range of activities to commemorate the event. UNHCR activities in Rome include: “light shows, film screenings, lectures, panel discussions, food bazaars, fashion shows, cultural performances, concerts, sports contests…, tree planting competitions, speeches, poetry recitals and photography exhibitions”. An over-arching promotion designed to appeal towards the general public has also been organized, as “Rome’s ancient Colosseum will… be bathed in UN blue, one of many monuments around the world to be spotlit to mark the occasion, including the iconic Empire State Building in New York”.

According to Global Team Events, football is the most popular sport in Italy, with “more than 4,363,000 people” playing every year, and Calcio Finanza states that “in the last twelve months the Italian national team engaged slightly less than 140 million TV viewers”. Italy is taking advantage of the Italian passion and enthusiasm for football in its effort to promote World Refugee Day by “holding special football tournaments between citizens… and refugees and asylum-seekers in cooperation with local partner organizations”. Another example of sport being used as a mode in which dialogue can be initiated is with the Vatican cricket team. Read the UNESCO Chair’s article on “Evangelizing Culture Through Sport and Interreligious Dialogue: The Example of the Vatican Cricket Team” here: http://bit.ly/2IiKX3c .

UNESCO Chair has a special interest in raising awareness for migrants and refugees in Europe, working both with Civic Dimensions for Social Inclusion (CivicAl) and with the European Citizens for Solidarity (EUROSOL). The aim of CivicAl “is to give to migrant and refugee adults access to civic education” with the purpose of integrating “more fully into the community”, while EUROSOL is committed to overcoming “the misconceptions regarding migrants and refugees in Italy”.

UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights is committed to supporting and promoting human rights, as per our work in Bioethics, Multiculturalism and Religion, due to our belief that “humanity’s progress is always accompanied by a respect for human dignity and human rights”. This year’s World Refugee Day offers a unique opportunity for Italians, and people everywhere, to engage in an open and informed dialogue regarding migration and refugees, and UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights encourages you to participate in World Refugee Day and the World Day of Migrants and Refugees this year.


Bernardini, Stefano. “Italian Football Team, a 2016 with 140m TV Viewers. 7.2 on Average with Ventura.” Calcio E Finanza. N.p., 31 Dec. 2016. Web. 11 June 2019.

“Civic Dimensions for Social Inclusion – CivicAL.” UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights, 10 Nov. 2018, www.unescobiochair.org/2018/11/10/civic-education-for-social-inclusion-civical/.

“Goals, Objectives & Activities.” UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2019.

“Poll: Only 50 Percent of Italians Call Themselves Catholic.” National Catholic Reporter. N.p., 30 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 June 2019.

“Pope’s Message for 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees: Full Text.” Vatican News. N.p., 27 May 2019. Web. 11 June 2019.

“Refugees, UNHCR, Displaced, Migrants, Migration, Asylum, Human Rights.” United Nations. United Nations, n.d. Web. 11 June 2019.

“Rome Focus of World Refugee Day.” RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2019.

“Soccer in Italy – A Look at the Culture and History of Italy’s Most Popular Sport.” Global Team Soccer Tours, Tournaments & Events. N.p., 04 Apr. 2017. Web. 11 June 2019.

World Environment Day: taking actions to preserve our environment, our human rights and our health

World Environment Day: taking actions to preserve our environment, our human rights and our health

By Camilla Carlesi

On June 5th, World Environment Day was celebrated for the 45th time since its creation in 1974 at the Stockholm Conference on the ‘Human Environment’. The event is recognized worldwide, and is used as a tool to inform and encourage actions to preserve our beautiful Earth. Discussions regarding overpopulation, global warming, pollution and biodiversity loss are examples of some of the core themes raised during the day. With time, the World Environment Day has managed to expand its network of NGOs and IGOs advocating for their causes. Today, over 100 countries participate with initiatives, workshops and events. An example to highlight is China, the second most polluted country in the world after India – which organized this year’s celebrations on the theme of air pollution.

The UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights supports this day, as it deals with Bioethics and Human Ecology. This means that it recognizes the fact that humans are the solution to solve environmental issues since they are also the cause. It is an ethical duty for communities and nations to face the problems that they have created. The UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights endeavors “to underline the importance of biodiversity and its conservation as a common concern of humankind” in order to protect future generations. Also, the declaration deals with the “Protection of the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity” in Article 17. It states that, “Due regard is to be given to the interconnection between human beings and other forms of life, to the importance of appropriate access and utilization of biological and genetic resources, to respect for traditional knowledge and to the role of human beings in the protection of the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity”. It is our duty then, to respect the environment in order to respect ourselves and our connection with all the other forms of life.

The conservation of the environment is also supported by the Pope, who wrote an encyclical letter citing Saint Francis of Assisi’s “Laudato Si’”. Saint Francis of Assisi sees nature as inseparable from humans, and capable of helping us achieve interior peace. As it is cited in the encyclical of the Pope, “the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise”, meaning that it is a pity to interfere in the growth of nature. God gave us the gift of natural resources, and it is a sin to spoil them to the point of no return. The Earth is our common home and our beloved mother. For this reason, we should be united in the process of protecting her.

On World Environment Day (WED), the Pope never misses the chance of speaking about human ecology – connecting the issue of environmental degradation with poverty. On WED in 2013, he invited the crowd in St. Peter’s to reflect and ask themselves, “What does cultivating and caring for the earth mean? Are we truly cultivating and caring for creation? Or are we exploiting and neglecting it?”. God gave us the job of caring for one another instead of for profit. Instead, we are living in a “culture of waste,” forgetting about our close brothers and the Earth. He continues by reminding us how poverty and deaths are becoming the norm, “a person dying is not news, but if the stock markets drops ten points it is a tragedy!”. Around 7 million people in the world die prematurely because of smog – a problem which could be solved through decisions made by governments – entities which have almost entirely been ignoring the impact of environmental degradation on human health.

By ignoring the safeguard of the Earth, there is the risk of denying people their right to life as stated in the 3rd Article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations. As the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics and Human Rights, we encourage people to collaborate in order to work together towards the goal of ensuring everyone their right to life and safety. Moreover, we underline the importance of nature and its close connection to God and our achievement of interior peace. Not only on World Environmental Day, but every day, we should be reminded of taking actions to preserve our environment, our human rights and our health. The benefit of saving lives will always outweigh any benefit coming from economic profit.